An Indian government agency has made a public statement to protect its transgender hires, even producing a Facebook video to educate the public about discrimination.
It’s being heralded as a first in the country, where transgender women still face abuse and hostility from society.
The 23 women will be working at a new Kochi Metro station in Kerala, south India.
In the video, one woman says: “I also have ambition, hopes and dreams.”
Another says: “I want you to look at me, and just see a person doing a job.”
The video was published by Kerala Information, the state’s public relations department. It now has 1.2 million views and 27,400 shares on Facebook, since it was posted over the weekend.
The women are employed as part of Kerala’s Kudumbashree state programme, which aims to empower women by giving them jobs and opportunities.
They will be deployed in different sections of the Kochi Metro, to do various jobs like housekeeping, selling tickets as well as canteen duties.
“We would like to give members of the transgender community their rightful share in different jobs at stations,” Elias George, the managing director for Kochi Metro Rail, told The Hindu in May. “I hope other firms in Kerala give them a respectable opportunity to work.”
India’s apex court gave citizens the right to declare themselves as belonging to a non-binary third gender in 2014.
Despite that, many of the country’s estimated two million transgender people find themselves facing hostility and abuse, and some thrown out of their homes are forced into sex work.
Kerala — which has an estimated 25,000-strong transgender community — offers free gender confirmation surgery at government hospitals, and promotes “inclusive education”. The state is also home to India’s first school for the transgender community, which opened in January this year.